Chakmas living in Arunachal Pradesh face an ‘uncertain’ and ‘fragile’ future, said the Chakma Rights and Development Organisation during a virtual meeting held with all Chakma stakeholders, intellectuals, and village headmen on August 18.

The centre and state have been working to resolve the long-pending vexed Chakma-Hajong issue of Arunachal Pradesh, but the sudden announcement made by Arunachal CM came as a surprise to the Chakma Rights and Development Organisation (CRDO). Every speaker in the meeting took the CM’s remark in all seriousness, expressing grave concerns over it. It has shaken their ‘fundamental belief’ in the democratic legal system, according to a press release issued by the organisation.

“All illegal immigrant Chakmas will be moved and settled outside of Arunachal Pradesh with honour and this matter has already been taken up and discussed with Union Home Minister Shri Amit Shah,” said Chief Minister Pema Khandu in his speech on August 15 this year.

Also Read: Arunachal students object to Chakma encroachment on Mishmi land

“Subsequently, Cabinet Minister for Law and Justice, Government of India Shri Kiren Rijiju as part of his Jan Ashirvad Yatra on numerous occasions across Arunachal Pradesh warned the Chakma and Hajong people of Arunachal Pradesh to harbour no confusion whatsoever about the fact that they will not be allowed to subsist or live in Arunachal Pradesh,” read the official statement.

They believe that Chakma and Hajong people did not come to NEFA on their own, and that they were brought there by the Government of India traversing a distance of 1200 km from Chittagong Hill Tract (CHT) and already rehabilitated in the then North East Frontier Agency (NEFA), which later became Arunachal Pradesh under a centrally sponsored ‘definite plan of rehabilitation’, following a series of discussions between the representatives of the Central government, state administration and local tribal leaders.

Meanwhile, the Arunachal Pradesh Chakma Gaonburah Association issued another statement saying, “More than 90% of our people are born here and we know of no other state than Arunachal Pradesh. This motherland is our past, this is our present and this is our future! We want to live and die here with dignity and honour in Arunachal Pradesh and cannot suffer through another mass migration to start life afresh in another state!”

While some expressed joy over the government’s move to resolve the Chakma issue, others were perturbed about relocating. They asserted that the Chakmas have no intention to move out of their home land and that the community is most deserving of the ST status and were stung about being branded as ‘refugees’ by their CM. 

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